Program Requirements

Applicants interested in the Department of Psychological and Brain Science's graduate program can find detailed information regarding program requirements in our Policies and Procedures manual.

For applicants interested in the Neuroscience and Behavior graduate program, please see the detailed information regarding NSB admission requirements.

Some important highlights for PBS applicants are found below.

  • Statistics: First-year graduate students enroll in Psychology 640 and 641 (Statistical Inference) and must pass both courses with a grade of BC or higher. Some areas of the department have additional quantitative requirements.
  • Additional courses: The core course program consists of two requirements: (a) two courses in quantitative methods, and (b) two additional courses outside of Division course requirements. Each area has its own additional requirements for course work. They appear at the bottom of this page.
  • A master’s degree in psychology must be earned before going on to the PhD. Students accepted into the PhD program do not need to hold a master’s degree prior to being accepted. A master’s degree in Psychology must be earned before going on to the PhD. A minimum of 30 credits is required (at least 21 in Psychology). A master’s thesis must be submitted and approved by a Master’s Committee, comprising at least three members of the Graduate Faculty representing at least two areas of the department (or another department). The student’s GPA must be above 3.0. Please see Policies and Procedures for information about when master’s degrees earned elsewhere can satisfy the UMass requirements. 
  • A Preliminary Comprehensive Examination must be passed after the master’s thesis has been completed. Each area has its own format and procedure for the comps.
  • A dissertation must be completed and at least 10 credits of dissertation credits earned. The student’s GPA must be above 3.0. A dissertation committee comprising of four or more members of the Graduate Faculty representing at least two different divisions plus one member of a different department must approve the dissertation in an oral examination.
    The Graduate School regulations should be consulted for other requirements.

Milestones: a quick guide (note: this schedule is optimal; areas and divisions may impose their own schedule)

  • Year 1: Complete Statistics 640, 641, participate in research, develop topic for master’s thesis
  • Year 2: Complete Core Course requirements, complete master’s thesis (submit proposal 4 months before oral exam; schedule and publish time and place of oral exam 2 weeks before exam)
  • Year 3: Complete Comprehensive examination
  • Year 4: Complete dissertation (submit proposal 4 months before oral exam; schedule and publish time and place of oral exam 3 weeks before exam)

Training Program Requirements (added to basic requirements):

  • Behavioral Neuroscience: Students in Behavioral Neuroscience are admitted to the Neuroscience and Behavior program. See the NSB program page for more details.
  • Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience: ABCD I and II (Psych 617 and 618); Cognitive Research Seminar (Psych 893) each term in residence; Cognitive Seminar (Psych 891) each term after the first year until passing the comprehensives exam; conduct a first-year research project the first year in residence. See the Cognitive program webpage for more details.
  • Developmental Science: Two Foundational Developmental courses (from among Psych 791A, 751, or 650), Developmental seminar all semesters, and two additional developmental science courses. See the Developmental program webpage for more details.
  • Social Psychology: Psychology 660, Social Psychology; Psychology 643, Research Methods; Psychology 642, Correlation and Regression; 3 upper-level Social Psych seminars and Social Brown Bag (891) each semester. See the Social program webpage for more details.

​​​Concentration in the Psychology of Peace and Violence: Basic Social Psychology requirements, plus two core courses in the concentration (Fall, Core Course I, Roots of Group Conflict; Spring, Core Course II: Improving group relations); upper-level seminar in the concentration (or, with permission, in a relevant area in psychology or another discipline); internship in a field setting. See the Peace Concentration website for more details.

  • Clinical Psychology (see the Clinical program webpage for more details)
    • Required Course Work:
          Research Methodology and Data Analysis (9 credits)
          Foundations of Psychology (21 credits across the following)
              Social Bases of Behavior
              Cognitive Bases of Behavior
              Biological Bases of Behavior
              Individual Differences
              Ethics & Professional Development
              Racial/Ethnic Bases of Behavior
         History and Systems of Psychology (1 credit)
         Assessment and Diagnosis (9 credits)
         Intervention (6 credits)
         Electives: You are required to take 6 credits
         Clinical Practica (14–20 credits)
    • Colloquium (6 semesters, 1 credit each year)
    • Research Requirement (19–30 credits)
    • Comprehensive Exam (1–3 credits)
    • Internship (18 credits)
    • An APA-approved internship is required of each clinical student.